POOL SCHOOL ONLINE

POOL SCHOOL ONLINE
“Clean Like the Pros!”
by
John Lemonds
Anchor Pool School
www.AnchorPoolSchool.com
Copyright © 2005, Anchor Enterprises
www.anchorpoolschool.com
[email protected]
Disclaimers
Not intended as a manual for commercial properties. Commercial swimming pools must meet certain regulations,
which are not covered in this manual. However, most of the procedures contained herein may be used at
commercial swimming pools.
The contents of this book are copyrighted by Anchor Enterprises, 2005. No portion of this document may be copied
or distributed without the permission of Anchor Enterprises.
Anchor Enterprises and its representatives are not responsible for any damages resulting from activities performed in
relation to the content of this book. The reader is advised to consult with a professional swimming pool serviceman
before performing any tasks he/she is unfamiliar with.
This manual provides an in-depth guide to operating pool equipment. However, due to the vast number of possible
configurations of pool components, it does not attempt to instruct on specifics which are unique to each pool, such
as location of valves or which way to turn the valves to accomplish certain tasks. This information can be obtained
from a pool professional, who can label the valves, pipes and equipment.
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Table of Contents
Introduction …..………………………………………….…………………………………..…4 What to expect from this course ..…………………………………………….....…………....6 Equipment Needed ..………...………………………………………………………………....8 1. Check Water Level ……………..……………………………………………..…...…..…..11 2. Check Chemicals Every Week! ............................................................................................13 3. Brush Tile …………………………..…………………………..………..…………...…….15 4. Net Surface ……………………………..…………………………..………………...….....16 5. Empty Traps ………………………………..………………………………………...……17 6. Prime the Pump ………………………………………………………………..……...…...20 7. Cleaner Maintenance ……………………………………………………………..……….22 8. Vacuum the Pool… …..………..…………………………………………………………..24 9. …, or Leafmaster ...…………………………………………………………………....…...33 10. Wrapping Up .…………………………………………………………………………….36 Appendix A: Checklist …..…………………………………………………………………..38 Appendix B: Service Log …………………………………………………………………….40 3
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Introduction
Swimming pool maintenance is not rocket science. Having said that, I have the utmost respect for swimming pool technicians. Much more than a “Pole Pusher,” they must be an accomplished Chemist, Plumber, Police Officer, Customer Service Representative and Route Driver. Skilled technicians in this trade earn over $60 an hour, and deservedly so. A swimming pool is a significant investment, and if neglected it quickly deteriorates and becomes an eyesore and a safety hazard. Pools are peculiar animals that have unique needs. It can be quite a challenge to control 20,000 gallons of water and: •
Keep it crystal clear, algae‐free and bacteria‐free. •
Juggle numerous chemical readings, correcting them weekly to maintain a delicate balance. •
Administer hazardous chemicals. •
Treat and prevent the damaging effects of water chemistry on swimmers, the pool shell and equipment. •
Operate the often‐complex conglomeration of pipes, pumps, valves, and equipment, all of which are subject to high pressure, extreme temperatures and high‐velocity fluids. •
Safely handle dangerous electricity and gas. 4
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Comprehend and stay current on the newest products and technologies, and make recommendations and provide solutions based on those developments. •
Spot potential risks and prevent problems. •
Comply with federal, state and local regulations. Like all complex systems, pools require periodic professional attention to assure smooth operation. Routine maintenance, however, doesn’t require a lot of expertise and can be done by anyone. A good analogy is your car. Most of the routine care can be done by you: washing and waxing, adding gas, and checking the fluid levels. But more than likely your local garage handles the tune‐ups and repairs for you. Likewise, a reputable pool service company will be happy to perform quarterly “tune‐ups” for you. Preventative maintenance is very important for swimming pools, and will definitely save you thousands of dollars in repairs. And so, I offer this Pool School not to replace, but to supplement, professional swimming pool care. This course is taken directly from the handbook I use to train my employees. It contains all of the “Tricks of the Trade” that I pass on to them. A lot of effort has been put into making this as simple and streamlined as possible. By following these clear and easy steps, you’ll save a lot of time, money and frustration. Scope: This course offers thorough coverage of cleaning procedures. And while it touches on other aspects of regular maintenance such as backwashing and chemical dosages, it doesn’t cover those topics in‐depth. If you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with these features, I recommend consulting with your pool professional. 5
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What to Expect From This Course
After completing this course, you will be able to: •
Transform your pool into a sparkling and inviting oasis. •
Learn how to make your pool do the work for you. •
Handle tricky pump problems. •
Know exactly when to backwash and clean your filter. •
Determine how long to run the pump. •
Comprehend how to use the cleaning equipment, in plain language! •
Learn all the tips and shortcuts of the pros! •
Remove every bit of dirt and debris in under an hour, without clouding up the water. •
Learn how to make your tile shine. •
Handle huge amounts of leaves with ease. •
Benefit from valuable “Tricks of the Trade” to save time, money and aggravation. •
Increase the longevity of your equipment with a few simple preventative measures. •
Optimize your automatic cleaner for maximum performance. •
Find tools and equipment that save time…and your back! •
Utilize the equipment you already have, to clean faster and easier. •
Avoid the common pitfalls and misconceptions that can cause serious damage. •
Coil the hose by hand in 15 seconds. •
Learn valuable shortcuts for priming your pump. 6
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Know the proper water level for your pool, and prevent overfilling and underfilling it. •
Avoid damage, lawsuits and injuries. •
And much more! 7
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Equipment Needed
Aluminum pole (telepole) that telescopes from 8’ to 16’. Fiberglass poles are more durable and don’t get as cold in the winter (during freezing temperatures, hands can freeze to aluminum poles), but they’re heavier and more expensive.
Vacuum head (for gunite or fiberglass pools) ‐ I recommend one with lead weights, ball bearing wheels, and a handle that swivels. The last item will save you some time and effort (see “Vacuum the Pool”). Vacuum Head (for vinyl liner pools) ‐ Because vinyl liners are soft and flexible, you must use a vac‐head with bristles. Vac‐
heads with wheels have insufficient clearance, allowing the mouth to come into contact with the liner and “stick” to it. A strong suction could pull too hard on the liner and damage it. Vacuum Hose ‐ Get one long enough to stretch from the skimmer to the furthest point of your pool, including the spa and fountain, if present. Include a few feet of slack. Nylon Wall Brush at least 18 inches wide. Test Kit ‐ Get one that includes at least the chlorine, pH and Total Alkalinity. Leaf Tank ‐ I recommend this unless your suction cleaner already has one, or you are certain you will never have any rocks, bottlecaps, or other hard objects in your pool that could get lodged in the pipes. Pentair makes one with a handle, a flip‐
top lid, and it’s see‐through. The latter feature is very handy to see if it’s full. 8
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Net or Leaf rake ‐ Get the highest‐quality one you can afford, with a deep pocket, preferably tapered. Don’t get one of the flat “leaf skimmers.” Tennis ball or Skimmer Plug ‐ if you have more than one skimmer, plug it with a tennis ball or threaded plug (most skimmers have 1.5” or 2” openings). Optional: Leafmaster ‐ This will save you lots of time if you get lots of leaves. Automatic Cleaner Adapter ‐ Use this to connect your Leafmaster to your boostered cleaner hose instead of a garden hose. There are various configurations so you may want to consult your pool professional. See “Leafmaster” Larger Leafmaster bag ‐ if you have a huge leaf problem. Hose coupling with valve for garden hose. Lid Wrench ‐ this tool helps you loosen stubborn pump lids. Doubles as a handy mixing tool. Tile Brush ‐ You can use your pole and wall brush, but this is easier to maneuver and has a larger brush head. Try to find one that is at a right angle to the pole so you don’t have to hunch over to brush the tile. Mixing bucket – A 5 gallon pail is a good size, and useful for stowing the smaller equipment. 9
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DE Scoop ‐ If you have a DE filter, this scoop measures the exact quantity you need. Use this or a 1‐lb coffee can to dole out half‐
pound scoops of DE (DE is lighter than coffee so it takes twice as many scoops to equal one pound). Stainless Steel Brush ‐ Good for stubborn algae, especially black algae. Ready? Let’s get started! 10
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1. Check Water Level
If the water level is low, begin filling now. The level should be at mid‐tile, or halfway up the skimmer mouth. For example, if there are two rows of tiles, use the grout line between the rows as your target level. Many pools have a dedicated fill line which empties into the skimmer or at the tile. The valve for these is either at the faucet or in a covered ground box. If there is no dedicated fill line, use a garden hose. Don’t position the end of the hose above water because the splashing and rippling will obscure the floor and make it difficult to see what you’re vacuuming. However, if you place the hose in the water, it could stir up the debris on the floor. The best method is to direct the hose at a corner or the top step; you can also put it in Pro Tip - Alarming News: Take
any precaution necessary to make sure you
turn the water off before you leave! Besides
wasting water, there can be disastrous
results if you leave the water running and
the pool overfills. Overfilling can flood the
property or even create a landslide that
damages your neighbor’s house—no kidding,
people have been sued for this. Try setting
an alarm, or lock yourself out and place your
keys by the spigot to remind you to shut it
off. Many people are surprised how quickly
the fill line can raise the water level—it can
rise 2 inches in as quickly as 5 minutes! Of
course, this depends on water pressure and
the surface area of the pool, but most pools
fill at the rate of one inch every 15-30
minutes.
the skimmer, but only after you’ve removed the skimmer basket so the leaves don’t get flushed into the pool. 11
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Many pools have auto‐fills, which feed water directly into the pool using a float valve similar to a toilet mechanism. The auto‐fill is usually located in the deck with a round plastic lid. Remove the lid and you’ll see a reservoir full of water and a mechanism with a float. If you will be backwashing the filter, make sure you overfill the pool by an inch or so to compensate for the water loss. So even if the water level is not low when you arrive, make sure there is enough so that backwashing doesn’t drop the level too low. Otherwise, the pool may have insufficient water to supply the skimmers, and the skimmers may begin to suck air. 12
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2. Check Chemicals Every Week!
Check the Chlorine, pH and Total Alkalinity weekly; Calcium Hardness and Cyanuric Acid (also called stabilizer or conditioner) may be done monthly. Most residential test kits do not test the last two or three, but even if yours does, it’s a good idea to take a water sample to your local pool supply store once a month. The materials in your test kit have a limited shelf life, especially if exposed to harsh temperatures. If you notice a disparity between your test kit results and the store’s results, it’s probably time to replenish your kit. Most local pool stores will test your water chemistry for free if you bring in a water sample. But, of course, they are in business to sell stuff, so you’ll receive a computer‐generated printout of recommended purchases. Every year I receive many calls from customers who have spent $100 or more on chemicals and still have a green pool. If you don’t see results after a couple of days, or the problem becomes chronic, it’s time to call in reinforcements. A good service company can provide a valuable second opinion, and can often save you time and money. Because balancing water chemistry can be so challenging, some pool owners prefer to hire a professional to do a chemical‐only service. That relieves you from storing and handling the hazardous chemicals. Some companies will test and add chemicals weekly for a flat rate, including chemicals. However, some companies don’t like to do this because they don’t make much profit. Assure them that you’ll use them for all of your repair needs. 13
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If calcium hypochlorite (also called shock, granular chlorine or cal‐hypo) is needed, begin dissolving it now in a bucket of water. If either the pH or TA need adjustment, correct them first, let the water circulate for an hour and then proceed with correcting the remaining chemicals. If both the pH and TA are outside the recommended ranges, correct the TA first. 14
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3. Brush Tile
Brush the tile to loosen the debris so you can net it. If there is a lot of debris on Pro Tip - An Ounce of
Prevention: Use a tile cleaner
from your pool supply store every
week to prevent scum and scale.
Reapply a little to your tile brush
every 10 feet. Don’t use household
cleaners because they contain
ingredients that can unbalance the
water chemistry and even cause
algae.
the tile or floating on the surface—
especially the lighter stuff—use your net to capture the majority of it before you brush. Otherwise, the brushing will agitate the water and put the debris into suspension. It is MUCH easier to net stuff off the surface rather than chase stuff churning around in suspension. Some debris doesn’t easily float to the surface, such as Crape Myrtle blooms and many seeds. It’s difficult if not impossible to capture all of these, which means they’ll end up settling to the floor after you’re done. 15
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4. Net Surface
If there are a lot of leaves on the surface, it’s easier to net when the pool isn’t circulating so you’re not chasing leaves all over the pool. With practice, you’ll be able to net the surface in one pass around the pool. Empty your net often because a full net churns up water more. Pro Tip - Before & After: Many
new cleaners make the mistake of
brushing the tile and netting after
vacuuming. Or they brush the walls
before vacuuming. They quickly learn
from their mistakes because they have to
vacuum again after the debris settles to
the floor. So always brush the tile and
net before you vacuum, and brush the
walls after you vacuum.
If you’re really good you can leave the pump on, stand in one spot and catch all the debris as the circulation carries it to you. Of course, this depends on certain circumstances, e.g. circulation pattern, amount and type of debris, and your ability to keep up! 16
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5. Empty Traps
Empty skimmers while the pump is on, taking care that nothing larger or harder than a leaf gets sucked into the skimmer hole. If you turn the pump off first, there will be nothing to hold the debris in the basket, and leaves can float out of the skimmer and you’ll have to net again. Pro Tip - How Do You Spell Relief: Before you turn off the pump,
open the air relief valve on top of the filter until water starts coming out.
This prevents the following rare, but very inconvenient, occurrence: If the
filter has a large amount of trapped air, when you turn the pump off the air
decompresses and expands, rapidly forcing all the water out of the pump and
surrounding plumbing. You’ll hear a distinct 5-second whooshing sound. If
the main suction valve isn’t closed when this happens, the suction lines will
probably be full of air. It will be difficult to prime the pump, so be prepared
to perform the priming procedure. Sometimes this can take up to 30
minutes, and you’ll be kicking yourself the whole time for not taking this 5second preventative measure!
Turn off the pump and close the suction valves. (If there are only a few leaves in the pump trap you can skip ahead to “7. Cleaner Maintenance”). 17
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Pro Tip - The Prime Directive: Before you open the pump lid,
make sure the motor is indeed off and close the suction valve(s). Many
valves (including Jandy) have stop tabs that only allow you to turn it 180
degrees unless you loosen the lock screw and pull up on the handle. As a
general rule, it’s best to close the valve that’s closest to the pump on the
influent, or suction, side. There is often a 3-way valve at the “tee” just
upstream from the pump. If not, close all of the influent valves. This
prevents water from draining out of the pipes and filling with air, and helps
the pump to catch prime.
Empty the pump trap. Remove the pump lid. If it is tight, use a lid wrench (see “Equipment Needed”). Some lids have two tabs or a looped handle that allow you to use a 1x2” wood bar as a wrench. The trap is a plastic (sometimes stainless steel) basket that strains leaves so they don’t clog up the inner parts of the Pro Tip - Equal Heights: If
there is an elevated attached spa
(meaning the spa water level is higher
than the pool water level), also close
either the spa drain or skimmers before
removing the pump lid. Otherwise, the
elevated water in the spa will seek
equilibrium with the pool water, and it
will travel out of the spa drain to the
skimmers, possibly flushing leaves from
the skimmers into the pool.
pump. Many traps have two notches in the lip; you must rotate the trap to align them with two tabs before you can lift out the trap. When you put the trap back in, make sure you line up the notches/tabs and turn the trap to “lock” it in place. Do not turn the trap more than an inch, otherwise it could get jammed with grit and debris and be difficult to remove next time. Other types of traps don’t have a “locking” mechanism and rely on an arched handle or strap to prevent the trap from floating up whenever the pump shuts off. But the handles frequently break, so many people use a rock to 18
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weight the trap down. Other traps don’t have handles because the lid holds it down, but they do usually have a slot or notch so make sure you line it up correctly. Still other traps have a hole in the side that must align with the influent hole (where the horizontal pipe attaches to the pump). Pro Tip - Tap the Trap: A quick way to empty the trap is to tap it
lightly, upside down, on a PVC elbow or 90, as if you were putting the open
end of a cup over your knee. Don’t tap so hard that you break it.
Clean out any debris remaining in the pump pot before you put the trap back in, otherwise the debris will get sucked into the impeller and can clog it. Fill the pot using a garden hose or bucket before closing the lid. When closing the lid, just make sure it’s snug. You shouldn’t have to strain. Over‐tightening can damage the o‐ring. If the o‐ring is dry, lube it with silicone lube. Never use Vaseline or any petroleum‐based product because it will break down the o‐ring. Lubing o‐rings also makes the lid much easier to loosen and remove next time. Some o‐rings can fall off inadvertently when the lid is removed (this is another reason not to over‐tighten because a lid without an o‐ring can be very difficult to remove). The pump will not prime without the o‐ring, so if you’re having problems with the next step make sure the o‐ring is in place and lubed. 19
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6. Prime the Pump
After filling the pot and closing the lid, open the valve(s) and turn the pump back on. It should catch prime within a minute. After it primes, close the valves for the Spa Drain, Main Drain and the skimmer(s) that you won’t be using to vacuum. Some pools have more than two skimmers, so you’ll have to close all but the one Pro Tip - Filter Fill:
This shortcut can fill the pot
without having to use a garden
hose or bucket. Just open the
air relief valve on the filter with
the lid off and the valves
closed. The water drains out
of the filter tank and fills the
pump pot.
you’ll be vacuuming from. When closing valves, do not “slam” them shut because it causes an effect called a “water hammer” which could weaken and burst pipes and joints. Instead, slowly turn the valve. After the pump primes, open the air relief valve on top of the filter to release any excess air. Close it when the air stops and a steady stream of water comes out. Don’t worry if there are a few bubbles left—the idea is to avoid a large pocket of air. In general, your filter should only accumulate air during a cleaning session. If you frequently find air accumulating in the filter or you constantly see bubbles coming out of your pool returns, you may have an air leak. If it takes more than 1‐2 seconds to release the air, it means you have two problems: your filter isn’t properly purging the air, and your system isn’t airtight and it’s introducing air into the plumbing somewhere. 20
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The first place to check is your skimmers: ensure the water is high enough to feed the skimmers, make sure the baskets aren’t full and check if any weirs (the floating flaps in the skimmer mouth) have a leaf or twig jamming it in an upright position, effectively starving the skimmer of water. If the skimmers are ok, your plumbing has probably developed a leak somewhere between the skimmer and the pump and it’s sucking air in. If you’re lucky, the leak is above ground and easily accessible; otherwise, you may be in for a costly underground repair. Consult your pool professional for help in correcting it. 21
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7. Cleaner Maintenance
Make sure the booster pump is off, if present. If you have a boosterless pressure‐side cleaner (i.e., it doesn’t have a separate booster pump), close the valve for it. Unscrew the filter bowl by fitting a large screwdriver or 1x2” wood bar in between two of the tabs on the bottom. The cartridge filter snaps out so you can rinse it with a garden hose. Snap it back in place and screw the filter bowl back on. Make sure you don’t cross‐thread it. Like all other o‐rings, periodically clean and lube the o‐ring on the filter bowl. If the cleaner has a bag or screen, remove it and rinse it off. Spray any dirty Velcro seams with a garden hose: one jet of water along each seam cleans it in a snap. Dirt gets trapped in the Velcro and causes algae; it can also cause the Velcro to come loose later and spill all the leaves. So it’s in your best interest to ensure the Velcro makes a tight seal so it does some of the cleaning for you during the week. Reassemble everything and put the cleaner back in the pool. Often there is a bit of loose debris that falls out, so doing all of this BEFORE you vacuum ensures that it doesn’t soil your pool AFTER you vacuum it. Detach the cleaner’s wall fitting (the plastic piece sticking out of the wall that the cleaner hose connects to) by pushing it into the wall slightly and twisting it a quarter turn counter‐clockwise. You should see a metal screen inside which you can remove to clean. If it’s split open, replace it. Leave the wall fitting sitting on the deck for now; we’ll reconnect it after we backwash. However, if you will be using the 22
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leafmaster with the hose from your boostered cleaner, connect the wall fitting to the wall now. 23
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8. Vacuum the Pool…
Overview: Setting up your vacuum equipment involves connecting the vac‐head and hose and closing some valves to maximize the suction on the vac‐head. The vacuum head and hose you’ll be using are designed to utilize the pool’s filtration system to vacuum the pool. As you glide the vac‐head over dirt and leaves, they are sucked into the hose by the pool’s filter pump. The debris travels up the hose, into the skimmer, through the underground pipes, through the pump and into the filter. The filter traps the dirt, and the clean water travels back to the pool through the returns. Leaf Tanks: The use of a leaf tank is optional, but recommended. If you vacuum without it, you risk vacuuming up something that can get stuck in the pipes. Rocks, sticks, bottlecaps, small toys and even paper towels are some of the objects that can cause a blockage. If something gets stuck in the underground plumbing, it can cost hundreds of dollars to repair, especially if you have to cut through the deck. Even seasoned servicemen can mistake a rock for a leaf, so weigh the risks carefully. This course assumes you will be using a leaf tank, so disregard references to it if you are not using one. If you have a suction‐type cleaner (e.g. Kreepy Krauly or Navigator), you probably already have a small inline leaf tank. If so, leave it on and ignore the following references to attaching and detaching the leaf tank (except of course to empty it). If you don’t have a leaf tank, I recommend getting one, unless yours utilizes a skimmer basket to trap the leaves. A leaf tank will help prevent clogging 24
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the pump basket, which creates a bottleneck in the filtration system and can damage the pump. A couple of tips regarding leaf tanks: •
Make sure the lid is firmly attached so it doesn’t spill the contents into your freshly‐cleaned pool. •
Hard objects and clumps of leaves frequently get lodged in the mouth of the leaf tank. If you suddenly lose suction, check for a blockage at the leaf tank opening. If the pool has a lot of rocks, twigs or bottlecaps, try to vacuum around them and net them up afterwards. If you have piles of leaves, consider leafmastering. Setup: Make sure the valves are closed for the Spa Drain, Main Drain and skimmer(s) that you won’t be using to vacuum. This concentrates all of the suction on your vac‐
head. If there aren’t dedicated valves for each skimmer, close the extra skimmer(s) with a tennis ball or threaded plug (see “Equipment Pro Tip - Frisbee
Trick: If the main drain
doesn’t have a valve, you
can use a Frisbee or bucket
lid to cover the main drain.
This effectively closes the
main
drain
line
and
increases the suction to
your skimmer line.
Needed”). As a general rule, the skimmer nearest the pump has the best suction, and using it will reduce time spent walking back and forth between the skimmer and pump. Of course, there are exceptions, so you may want to test each skimmer if the near skimmer doesn’t provide enough suction. Some pools have such large pumps that you’ll get sufficient suction without closing any other valves. If you have a large pool (or a short hose), choose the skimmer that will allow the hose to reach all corners of the pool, including the spa and fountain, if present. 25
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Pro Tip - Use the Cleaner Hose: If the pool has a suction-type cleaner,
e.g. Kreepy Krauly or Navigator, you may be in luck! This little-known shortcut
lets you use the cleaner hose to vacuum, saving you time: First, make sure the
hose will reach to all corners of the pool, including the spa and fountain. If not,
you may:
•
•
•
Extend the hose using a couple of hose segments.
If the spa is not very dirty, open the spa drain and brush the dirt and
debris into the drain. This is not as efficient as vacuuming, however,
because much of the dirt will just go into suspension and may cloud up the
spa.
Use your own vacuum hose (see next section).
If there is no leaf tank in the cleaner line, you can connect your leaf tank
between two hose segments. It’s easiest to do this near where the hose attaches
to the suction port (in the wall or skimmer). Drop your leaf tank in the water; it
will float, but don’t let it float away! Disconnect the cleaner hose between the
first and second segments, leaving one hose segment in the suction port.
Holding both loose ends underwater, connect the top of the leaf tank to the hose
that leads to the cleaner and force it straight down into the water so it fills with
water. Then attach the other hose (the one still connected to the suction port) to
the bottom of the leaf tank. The entire hose and leaf tank should be filled with
water now.
Attach your pole to your vac head and lay them on the deck, near the steps,
with the vac head hanging over the edge of the deck. Bring up the cleaner by
hauling in the hose, taking care not to raise the cleaner above the water lest it
suck air and deprime the pump. While holding the cleaner submerged, kneel
next to your pole and vac head and disconnect the cleaner. You may release it
onto the second step without fear of it sinking to the deep end. Keep the end of
the hose submerged with one hand while you grab the vac head and connect it to
the hose. Remember to keep the hose submerged the entire time so it doesn’t
Sink the Hose: Stand next to the skimmer and set out the vac‐head, pole, hose and leaf tank, all within easy reach. Holding one end of the hose, drop the coiled hose into the water so that the end you’re holding uncoils off the top of the coil. Attach that end to your vac‐head, then snap your pole onto the vac‐head. 26
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Pro Tip - Swivel Cuffs: Most vacuum hoses come with different
cuffs at each end. The larger one connects to the vac head and swivels,
allowing you to roam freely without tangling the hose. However, unless
you’re doing synchronized swimming there is no real danger of tangling.
Also, the cuff is not water-tight and can suck in air if it protrudes above the
surface of the water. As you now know, if too much air is sucked into the
pump it can deprime it. If you’re not careful, lingering on the top step or
another shallow area can lead to depriming. For this reason, some
professionals connect the swivel cuff to the leaf tank instead of the vac head.
There is one exception to this suggestion: in some circumstances the leaf
tank’s short hose lacks enough length to allow the leaf tank to stay
submerged, and the swivel cuff sucks air. The bottom line—it doesn’t really
matter which end you use as long as you’re cautious about sucking air.
Release everything but the pole, and drop the vac‐head into the pool. Extend your pole, leaving about a foot of the extension inside to give it strength when flexing the pole. Tighten the cam. Don’t over‐tighten it or you’ll have to replace the cam or pole every week. If you point the vac‐head toward the opposite wall, it will stop by itself before the entire pole slides into the pool. Now you can safely release the pole and proceed. Now grab part of the hose that is submerged and begin feeding the rest of the hose into the pool. The idea is to fill the entire hose with water, and there is indeed an art to this. Proceed smoothly and methodically: uncoil a bit of hose and push it straight down into the water, uncoil another bit of hose and push it straight down into the water. Always feed the hose vertically into the water and allow it to fill with water, otherwise you could get an air pocket that stops the water flow. You’ll know if this happens because the hose ceases to sink easily into the water, and begins to float, only half‐submerged. When this happens, you’ll need to backtrack and find the part of hose before the air pocket. Look closely for the parts 27
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of hose that are completely submerged and resume from there. With practice, you’ll be able to sink a 50’ hose in about 15 seconds, and you’ll be able to tell if you’re going too fast for the water to keep up. When you reach the end of the hose you should see water coming out. If not repeat this paragraph. Connect the hose to the lid of the leaf tank and submerge it vertically until it fills with water. If the short hose isn’t connected to the bottom of the leaf tank, connect it now and submerge it as well. You should see water coming out of the short hose. Feed it through the mouth of the skimmer (under the deck, not over) and plug it into the suction port. Most skimmers have two holes at the bottom of the skimmer well and the suction port is the further of the two. Some skimmers put the suction port in the side. If all else fails, feel around for a hole that has suction, and make sure the pump is on and the skimmer valve is open. NOTE: Some skimmers have a diverter valve at the bottom that must be removed before you can vacuum. It looks like a flying saucer and it removes easily. Its purpose is to prevent pump damage caused by depriming. If the water level drops low enough that the skimmer begins to suck air, the float inside the diverter valve drops, closing off the skimmer and diverting the suction to the main drain or equalizer line. This ensures an unbroken water supply to the pump. Vacuum: You’re now ready to begin vacuuming. It’s most efficient to start at the shallow end and work your way down using a striped or zigzag pattern. You’ll soon discover that the suction is best at the middle of the vac‐head and weakens toward the sides. So if there is a lot of dirt and/or the suction is low, you may need to overlap each pass, otherwise you’ll end up with a pinstriped pool! You’ll also discover that some debris is “loftier” or “lighter” than others. So if you move your vac‐head too fast you’ll stir it up and send it into suspension, and it 28
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may not settle for hours. So it pays to have some patience. Go slow, as if you were ironing (or painting, for all you guys wearing wrinkled shirts!). If you have leaves or small twigs that are difficult to roll over, twist the pole until one side of the vac‐
head raises up; allow the mouth of the vac‐head to hover over the leaf until it sucks it up. If the pool has an attached spa or fountain, vacuum it last. Stand by or on the spa if it’s elevated, and collapse your pole and bring the vac‐head near the surface. Make sure you have enough slack in the hose to make it into the spa/fountain, and quickly (as in, faster than you can say “Shazaam!”) flip the vac‐head into the spa Pro Tip - Look Ma, One
Hand! If you have a vac head
with a swivel handle, you can
steer it by twisting the pole.
This allows you to easily
maneuver and follow contours.
At the end of each pass you can
steer over toward the next lane,
which is faster and more
efficient.
or fountain. The idea is to minimize the size of the air pocket that gets sucked into to pump. If it’s too much air, the pump may not be able to catch prime again. Then you may have to spend 5 to 30 minutes to prime it and meanwhile the leaf tank may fall to the floor of the pool and spill some debris ...and you’ll kick yourself for not following this advice. If you used the hose from the automatic cleaner, just reverse the steps to reconnect the automatic cleaner and release it in the pool. Emptying the leaf tank can be tricky because you can easily suck air and deprime the pump. Also, there is usually a bit of sand sitting in the bottom of the leaf tank, which can fall into the pool. I recommend the following procedure, in this sequence: 1. Disconnect the hose from the lid of the leaf tank while keeping everything submerged. 29
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2. Pull out some excess hose and place it on the deck, but keep the end of the hose submerged so the water doesn’t drain out. Now you can release it without it floating away. 3. Pull the leaf tank upright so it points to the sky, leaving the hose submerged. Watch as the water drains out (if you don’t have a clear leaf tank, count to two). 4. Keeping the hose submerged, disconnect the hose from the leaf tank just as the last of the water drains out of the tank and quickly place the leaf tank on the deck. 5. Reconnect the two loose ends of the hose. 6. Empty the leaf tank. You may want to rinse it so no debris washes into the pool. 7. Reconnect the leaf tank (see above “Pro Tip: Use the Cleaner Hose”) 8. Skip ahead to “10. Wrapping Up.” Pro Tip – “Pop the Hose”: The hose may still have a bit of dirt and
debris stuck inside it, and if you don’t purge it the debris could fall into your
clean pool while you’re rolling the hose. It’s a quality issue, so feel free to
skip this step if you don’t mind risking a little dirt.
First, bring the vac head near the surface and kneel down. Keeping the vac
head submerged the entire time, clap or “pop” your hand (half a second—
don’t let your hand linger) over the mouth of the vac head 2 or 3 times. You
should see the entire hose “jerk,” which loosens any remaining debris that’s
stuck in the coils so it can get sucked into the filter.
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If you used your own vacuum hose follow these tips: Evacuate the hose: The idea is to let the pump suck all the water out of the hose without letting any air get sucked into the skimmer. This takes timing and coordination...and a little trial and error. The first few times you do this, try opening the other skimmer and/or main drain before you pull the vac‐head out. This decreases the suction on the skimmer you’re using and buys you some time to go through the motions. It also decreases the likelihood of depriming the pump. First, bring the vac‐head as close as possible to the skimmer (not applicable if you’re in the spa). Make sure the pole is collapsed and lower the pole handle to near the ground. This is so you don’t waste time lowering it to the ground after you pull the vac‐head out, or worse, drop the pole and risk breaking a window or something. Yank the vac‐head out and plop it on the deck...and RUN to the skimmer. You’re racing against the air that’s getting sucked through the hose, and you can see it as it snakes around and makes the hose float. Grab the leaf tank BEFORE the air reaches it, and pull it UPRIGHT without pulling the leaf tank hose out of the skimmer. Make sure it stands vertical, with the lid pointing up. This is important because it prevents the leaves from spilling out of the tank and into the hose, and ultimately into the pool. Also it allows you to see the last of the water get sucked out of the tank (assuming you have a clear, see‐through leaf tank), in time for you to yank the short leaf tank hose out of the skimmer. Make sure you pull the hose out BEFORE all the water gets sucked out of the leaf tank; otherwise air will get sucked through the skimmer and can deprime the pump. I like to wait a few seconds and let any remaining water and debris completely drain into the skimmer before I put the leaf tank on the deck. There is always a little dirt and I don’t want it going back into the 31
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pool. Also, allowing the excess water to drain out now makes for a much lighter leaf tank when you’re packing up. Set the leaf tank on the deck—careful, don’t let the contents spill into the pool. Of course, if you’re not using a leaf tank it is much more simple. After releasing the pole and vac‐head, simply pull the hose out of the skimmer before the air reaches it and you’re done. Rolling the hose is another skill that takes practice. Leave all but one end in the pool—trust me, it’s much easier to manage a tangled hose while it’s floating in the pool. Stand 2‐3 feet from the water’s edge. Pull about 6’ out of the pool, give it a twist and let it fall in a circle on the Pro Tip – Kinky Hoses: Try not
to let the hose kink, because the kinks
become weak points that collapse, or
pinch, when a pump has excessive
suction. When that happens you lose
suction at the vac head, and you’ll have
to decrease the suction and massage
the kink out repeatedly in order to
continue vacuuming. Eventually you’ll
have to get a new hose because the
kink collapses even with low suction.
deck. Step on the hose so it stays put, and repeat. Pull 6’, twist, coil and step. If the hose in the pool gets tangled, gently pull while working the hose into a spinning motion. You’ll look like a cowboy doing one of those lasso tricks. Ideally the hose will uncoil off the top, and it should go smoothly as long as you keep the hose spinning in the pool and you keep your foot on the coil on the deck. 32
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9. …or, Leafmaster
If the pool has a lot of leaves, leafmastering is a good alternative to vacuuming. This tool can be a lifesaver during the fall or after a storm. A good rule of thumb is: If the pool has too many leaves to fit inside the leaf tank, use a leafmaster instead of vacuuming. Leafmasters operate on the venturi principle: water sprays upward into the bag, creating a suction effect. The leaves get trapped in the bag, and the water (and dirt) escapes through the mesh. The advantage of leafmastering is it can pick up more leaves and do it much faster. However, it doesn’t capture dirt, nor does it pick up heavier objects like rocks, sticks and heavy nuts/seeds. For pools with a lot of dirt it can make the pool cloudy or even swampy in extreme cases. Leafmastering also requires good water pressure, so if your spigot has insufficient pressure or your garden hose is too narrow, you won’t pick up much. Also the garden hose can get in the way while vacuuming and stir up leaves and dirt. NOTE: Cloudy pools create special concerns, so take precautions to prevent swimming until the water is clear. If the pool is really full of leaves, you may want to net the majority of leaves first. It takes less time to empty a net than a leafmaster. Or you can get a bigger leafmaster bag. There are several sizes, up to 6’ tall. Some have a coarser mesh that doesn’t clog as easily in pools with lots of dirt and slime. Some taller ones include a float to keep them upright so they don’t flop around and stir up everything. If your 33
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bag doesn’t include a float, one or two tennis balls may help. Don’t use anything that is highly buoyant, or you’ll be constantly fighting to keep the leafmaster on the floor. Save yourself a bit of trouble by buying a threaded garden hose coupling with a valve, and attaching it to the leafmaster. You can find them at any hardware store. It’s a small adapter with a male threaded fitting on one end and a female threaded fitting on the other. This allows you to stop the water without running to the spigot. Setup is simple: All you need are the leafmaster and its bag, the pole and a garden hose. Cinch the mesh bag tightly, or the bag may pop off and dump the leaves into the pool. Attach the pole to the handle. Connect the garden hose. Pro Tip - Boost Your Performance: Instead of attaching a garden
hose to your leafmaster, use an adapter to attach the hose from a boostered
cleaner, e.g. Polaris 280 or 380. You benefit from the increased pressure
and faster cleanup time, the hose doesn’t get in the way because it floats,
and there’s no need to coil up the hose when you’re done. You can use a
combination of a threaded adapter and quick-disconnect, or if you can find
one, the swivel ball bearing from the old-style Letro backup valve. Ask your
supplier or pool professional for these. If your cleaner has a backup valve (a
plastic piece that looks like a bulge in the hose, and pulls the cleaner in
reverse every few minutes), I recommend detaching the hose at its intake
and then connecting that end of the hose to the leafmaster. If you don’t
bypass it like this, the backup valve will kick in every few minutes while
you’re leafmastering, and you’ll lose all pressure to the leafmaster while the
backup valve tugs on it. NOTE: This Pro Tip will not work with
pressure-side cleaners that lack a booster pump, like the Polaris
360.
Operation is similar to vacuuming. Move in a striped pattern. If using a garden hose, begin work nearest the spigot and keep the hose behind you so it doesn’t stir 34
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up the leaves. If you have a large pile of leaves, don’t just plow through it. Position the leafmaster next to the pile and “gulp” the leaves by twisting the pole and making the leafmaster tip up, similar to “popping a wheelie.” Don’t take too frequent gulps or you’ll stir up the leaves. If the leafmaster left behind a lot of dirt and debris, you can follow up with a quick vacuum. When you’re finished, remove the leafmaster by turning it upside down and slowly bringing it to the surface. Don’t pull too hard on the leafmaster or the bag may come off. Set the pole on the deck. The leafmaster should have its mouth (the flared end) facing up and the bag descending into the water. Now turn off the spigot or booster pump (not sooner, or else the leaves could fall out). Detach and remove the bag. It’s easier to remove it if you hold the bag open while hauling it out, which allows the water to drain. If you used the cleaner hose, detach it and reconnect it to the cleaner. Don’t leave the automatic cleaner out of the water for more than a few hours, unless necessary. When it dries out, parts become brittle, and the hose tends to “remember” its shape, which can cause tangling later. 35
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10. Wrapping Up
Empty pump trap: See “5. Empty Traps” above. Backwash: If your filter needs backwashing, do it at this point. Adjust timer and valves: Occasionally the pump timer needs adjusting. Power outages, turning off the main power switch, and in some cases just turning on the pump can change the time. So make sure the timer displays the correct time to ensure the equipment operates at the proper times. Also, check the pump duration. Duration requirements depend on several factors, including pump strength, filter capacity and water temperature. Eight hours a day is usually sufficient, but consult with your pool professional for assistance. If the water is cloudy or murky, run the filter pump until the water is crystal clear. There are several good additives on the market that will dramatically improve clarity and reduce filter time. It may be tempting to run the pump less to save energy, but if water clarity suffers you may incur additional costs. Clear water means less contaminants in the water, which translates into lower chlorine demand, less algae, longer filter cycles, lower costs and an inviting pool. Reset the valves to their original configurations, and reconnect the cleaner wall fitting. Add Chemicals: If your chemistry readings were out of balance, add chemicals now. 36
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Brush walls: If you have algae, brush it and treat it at this time. Brushing also helps to evenly distribute any chemicals you added, especially any undissolved solids which may have settled. Turn off water: If you were adding water, turn off the faucet when the water level reaches the middle of the tile, or halfway up the mouth of the skimmer. Stow the cleaning equipment somewhere out of the elements. A garage or storage shed is a good place, but room temperature is best for the test kit. Extreme heat or cold will damage some reagents in the test kit. The pole(s) may be stored outdoors if desired. Many pool owners hang them on hooks on their fence or wall. It’s also a good idea to keep a shepherd’s hook or float ring nearby in case of a drowning emergency. Before you leave, take one last look to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. When the water is clear enough to see the main drain it should be safe to swim. 37
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Checklist
It’s advisable to perform these tasks in the following order: ‰ Check Water Level ‰ Should be at middle of tile, or halfway up the skimmer mouth. ‰ If you’re backwashing, add extra water to compensate for water loss. ‰ Check Chemicals Every Week! ‰ If calcium hypochlorite is needed, begin dissolving it now in a bucket of water. ‰ If either the pH or TA need adjustment, correct them first, let the water circulate for an hour and then proceed with correcting the remaining chemicals. ‰ If both the pH and TA are outside the recommended ranges, correct the TA first. ‰ Brush Tile ‰ Net Surface ‰ Empty Traps ‰ Empty skimmers. ‰ Turn pump off. ‰ Close suction valves. ‰ Empty pump trap. ‰ Prime the Pump ‰ Fill the pump. ‰ Close lid. ‰ Open suction valves. ‰ Turn pump on. ‰ Cleaner Maintenance ‰ Turn booster pump off, if present. ‰ Clean filter for pressure‐side cleaner, if present. ‰ Empty cleaner bag and screen, if present ‰ Vacuum the Pool ‰ Close all suction valves except the skimmer or suction port which you are using. ‰ Use the hose from your suction cleaner, or… ‰ Using your vacuum hose, connect the vac‐head, pole and leaf tank. 38
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‰ After vacuuming, “pop” the hose to remove the debris. ‰ Leafmaster ‰ If the pool contains more pools than will fit in the leafmaster bag, use your leaf rake to remove the majority of leaves first. ‰ If you have a boostered cleaner, consider connecting the cleaner hose to the leafmaster instead of a garden hose. You’ll need a special adapter. ‰ Wrapping Up
‰ Empty pump trap.
‰ Backwash filter, if needed.
‰ Adjust timers and valves.
‰ Add remaining chemicals.
‰ Brush walls.
‰ Turn off water.
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Service Log
______________
Date
CL
0.0
0.5
1.0
2.0
3.0
5.0 _________________________
Vacuum
Leafmaster
Tile
______________
Time
Ph
7.0
7.2
7.4
7.6
7.8
8.0 _________________________
Add H2O
Empty Traps
Net
Brush Walls
Backwash
Chems added
TA ________ CH________ CY_________
Algae:
Yellow
Green
Black
Clnr bag
______________
Date
CL
0.0
0.5
1.0
2.0
3.0
5.0 _________________________
Vacuum
Leafmaster
Tile
______________
Time
Ph
7.0
7.2
7.4
7.6
7.8
8.0 _________________________
Add H2O
Empty Traps
Net
Brush Walls
Backwash
Chems added
TA ________ CH________ CY_________
Algae:
Yellow
Green
Black
Clnr bag
______________
Date
CL
0.0
0.5
1.0
2.0
3.0
5.0 _________________________
Vacuum
Leafmaster
Tile
______________
Time
Ph
7.0
7.2
7.4
7.6
7.8
8.0 _________________________
Add H2O
Empty Traps
Net
Brush Walls
Backwash
Chems added
TA ________ CH________ CY_________
Algae:
Yellow
Green
Black
Clnr bag
______________
Date
CL
0.0
0.5
1.0
2.0
3.0
5.0 _________________________
Vacuum
Leafmaster
Tile
______________
Time
Ph
7.0
7.2
7.4
7.6
7.8
8.0 _________________________
Add H2O
Empty Traps
Net
Brush Walls
Backwash
Chems added
TA ________ CH________ CY_________
Algae:
Yellow
Green
Black
Clnr bag
______________
Date
CL
0.0
0.5
1.0
2.0
3.0
5.0 _________________________
Vacuum
Leafmaster
Tile
______________
Time
Ph
7.0
7.2
7.4
7.6
7.8
8.0 _________________________
Add H2O
Empty Traps
Net
Brush Walls
Backwash
Chems added
TA ________ CH________ CY_________
Algae:
Yellow
Green
Black
Clnr bag
Notes: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________________
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